My wedding is less than two months away - thank goodness. I am thrilled to be marrying my best friend, but to be quite honest, the whole process has been a headache. There’s the collision of familial cultures, the mothers’ good-intentioned “suggestions,” the always-increasing guest list and, of course, very important wardrobe decisions to be made. Regardless of the family dynamics and other emotionally-charged choices in wedding planning, no one can deny that it is outrageously expensive.
As a business professional, I always expect to pay someone fair value for value. I generally don’t gawk at prices, but weddings take it to a whole new level, while not necessarily offering products that support the prices.
Here are a few simple, existing solutions that would make a much better impression on brides-to-be like me:
When I was first researching wedding vendors, I did a search on Twitter and found #bridechat. I tuned in, but found that the primary participants were a handful of companies based out of New York City. They were helpful, but none of the vendors I could potentially work with in my region were participating in conversations over Twitter.
Bride’s Advice: Use Twitter to meet and converse with brides-to-be. Trust me – they mention their weddings in 140-character rants quite often! This is also true for Pinterest interaction.
Make the Pictures Move
Images are deceiving. The color, size and other attributes can be distorted. While this may work in the best interest of the vendor, it’s incredibly frustrating for the bride-to-be.
Bride’s Advice: Whether it’s a set of china or a venue, tell the story through motion media. For instance, instead of just posting pictures of bridal gowns or bridesmaid dresses, set up a camera and have “models” (i.e. employees, actual customers, whomever you want to use) actually put on the clothes. Then, explain the details while the dress is on the person, so the bride-to-be can understand the qualities of the dress in three dimensions. It will save both of you hands-on time in-store or having to deal with online returns.
Some of the most beautiful bridal items I found were on Etsy, where crafty men and women are selling highly personalized goods on a one-off basis. As a bride, it’s appealing because of the customization and labor of love that went into the pieces.
Bride’s Advice: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if bridal boutiques partnered with some of these people to sell dresses on personalized “bride-to-be” hangers? There are so many potential “marriages” in this industry that would make your customer feel special and also provide dual exposure to a brand that cares and an artist-in-the-making.
Let Me Book Online
I used Bella Bridesmaid for my bridesmaid dresses. While it’s a great place to find a variety of dresses, allow the bridesmaids to try them on in various cities, and then submit a mass order, scheduling fittings is a frustrating experience. Most Bella Bridesmaid locations have very small staffs, which are usually in the store handling appointments. This means that bridesmaids have to play phone tag to try to book an appointment.
Bride’s Advice: Use an online booking system like Book’d to allow customers to book appointments online, minimizing schedule management time and making the bridal party much happier.
Do Something Different Here are other ideas a wedding vendor may want to implement to better appeal to a bride-to-be:
- -For a venue: Create an online form or microsite that allows a bride-to-be to go and interactively view and select options for each decision (i.e. linens, food).
- -For a wedding planner: Create an application that indexes all bridal salons in a given metropolitan area and then allows you to filter by budget, designers and other factors. (This doesn’t even exist in New York City, where I bought my dress!)
- -For a florist: Create an email marketing campaign that shows off one style of flowers per week and educates brides-to-be on the thousands of varieties.
Weddings should be fun affairs, rather than the stress-inducers many of us find them to be. As a vendor who’s clamoring for business from busy brides-to-be, it’s to your benefit to find ways to make the process easier on both of you. A satisfied customer inevitably leads to a happier staff and a better bottom line.
Emily Eldridge is the CEO of Book'd, the clever online booking engine coming to market in October 2012, co-founder of The Agency Post, an international marketing community focused on collaborative learning and innovation, and also leads other entrepreneurial endeavors in the strategic communications and technology industries. Interact with her on Twitter.